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Virginia House Races May Tell National Story

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Gov. Bob McDonnell and First Lady Maureen McDonnell voted in the 2010 midterm election this morning at Rivers Edge Elementary School in Glen Allen.
Michaele White, governor's photographer
Gov. Bob McDonnell and First Lady Maureen McDonnell voted in the 2010 midterm election this morning at Rivers Edge Elementary School in Glen Allen.

Campaign analysts are closely watching four House seats in Virginia that polling indicates could flip from blue to red today.

Just two years ago, Democrats took three Virginia House seats from the GOP. Republicans think they can take those back today, and possibly scoop up another seat or two. Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell says he's optimistic the state will help the GOP gain control of the House.

"Virginia is going to definitely do our part," McDonnell told reporters at a campaign rally in Fairfax County. "We think we can win anywhere from two and five races, depending on that turnout. And given the fact that President Obama won here two years ago by seven, I think it would say that Virginia is certainly a right of center state."

David Wasserman of the Cook Political Report says Virginia is a key early state to watch as the returns start coming in.

"This will give us some indication of the way election night is going. If Republicans are having a really big night, they could pick up three of these seats. If it's going just about as expected, they could pick up two of these seats," Wassernan says.

Polls show one of the closest races is in Northern Virginia's 11th district where first-term Democrat Gerry Connolly is trying to stave off a challenge from Republican Keith Fimian. The other two most hotly contested races are in Southeastern Virginia where incumbent Democrats Tom Perriello and Glenn Nye are facing Republican challengers Robert Hurt and Scott Rigell.

Northern Virginia Democrats claim an early lead in absentee ballots, but Republicans say the momentum is on their side. Now analysts say it all comes down to voter turnout.

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